Based on a fable, a Blacksmith with a secret stays to himself. But when a little girl enters his world, along with an official looking for gold, sets in motion events that leads to the gates of hell…
Words are often important in context. At the beginning of Errementari, we get a narration about a man so evil even the Devil was afraid of him. These words are repeated at the end, but this time have a different meaning. But when repeated at the end of this wonderful film, they really hit home the power in the film.
Most fantasy films these days are based on novels, often over rely on CGI and focus on teens. Here, while there may be CGI involved during the final act, a visually stunning sequence at the gates of Hell, but for the most part focuses on character, some surprising twists and turns and a story that is powerful and full of emotion.
Oh and on the whole focuses more on adults rather than teens.
But at its heart is a stunning performance from Uma Bracaglia as Usue, a little girl who inadvertently sets in motion the events in the film. Orphaned at a young age, she’s raised harshly by the local priest, and bullied by other children, even though she does often give as good as she gets. Usue is the heart of this film, events in the film to a degree revolve around her and Bracaglia’s performance is wonderful.
She’s matched by Kandido Uranga who plays the Blacksmith. While a man of few words, behind is threatening demeanour is a man haunted by his own past and a deal he made, one he tries to avoid, in part by trapping a demon. The Blacksmith, Patxi, appears an intimidating figure, but there is much more to him and as he bonds with Usue we see a slightly softer side to him.
The rest of the cast are first rate too. Special mention to Eneko Sagardoy who plays Sartael a demon, one who despite a fearsome look, is actually much less intimidating as the story progresses.
The film looks stunning, thanks to great work from director of photography Gorka Gomez Andreu. The scenes at the gates to Hell are spectacular. The design of the film is terrific, the music from Pascal Gaigne is great.
Paul Urkijo Alijo directs the film very well. He also co-wrote the film with Asier Guerricaechevarria, the script adding touches of humour into the story, such as the idea of chickpeas being something you can use against the devil! But the story has a lot of heart too and Alijo brings that out very well indeed. As the story heads to its climax, as it takes surprising turns, it would have been easy for the film to get overblown, but it doesn’t thanks to it’s director’s ability, leading to a fantastic final moment, one, as I said, that reuses the words at the beginning to a different effect.
I saw this film at the FrightFest Glasgow event earlier this year and loved it. I’d been hoping for it to receive a UK cinema release since, but instead it has gone to Netflix. But no matter how you get the chance to see it, I highly recommend this film as it is one of the best fantasy films I’ve seen in years.